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December 2019 | Vol. 29 Iss. 12



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he Riverton Historic Preservation Commission’s Christmas wish is that a wreath will grace the headstone of every veteran in the Riverton City Cemetery. In collaboration with the Daughters of the American Revolution, the local American Legion and the non-profit organization Wreaths Across America, the RHPC is seeking donations to purchase wreaths for the more than 324 veterans interred in the Riverton City Cemetery. For a $15 donation, people can purchase a wreath for a specific veteran buried in the cemetery or donated toward any veteran who hasn’t received a wreath. A nationwide event on Dec. 14 at 10 a.m. MST will include a short ceremony followed by volunteers placing a wreath on each headstone after reading the veteran’s name. “I thought it was a worthy and wonderful way to honor our veterans,” said Linda Abel, chair of the RHPC and member of the DAR. “Riverton is the 13th location in Utah participating in Wreaths Across America.” At the time of the South Valley Journal’s printing, 80 wreaths have been purchased. Riverton Historic Preservation Commission member and Riverton Deputy City Recorder Joy Johnson said they are hopeful that they will have received enough donations by the Dec. 2 deadline to place wreaths on each and every veteran’s grave. “We are really anxious to get every wreath purchased,” Johnson said. “If we miss this year, we will try it again next year, but we are hopeful that all of the graves will be sponsored this year.” Abel said depending on the number of wreaths purchased, they will be placed in order of when the veteran served our country. “We will start with the two oldest veteran graves, one from the Black Hawk Indian War and one from the Civil War,” Abel said. “Then we will place the wreaths to begin to cover World War I veterans. We don’t have enough wreaths to place

A child places a wreath on the grave of a veteran in Arlington National Cemetery (Photo courtesy of Wreaths Across America.)

on all of the veterans’ graves because we got a late start, but our goal for next year is to have a wreath for every veteran.” Wreaths Across America is a nonprofit organization that was officially founded in 2007 by Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreaths. Worcester had been organizing and donating wreaths for ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery for the 15 years prior. After the desire for local wreath-laying

ceremonies exceeded the Worcester family’s ability to help, Wreaths Across America was started and has become the organizing force behind thousands of veteran wreath ceremonies. Nick Flake, a Vietnam war veteran and the commander of VFW Post 12087 in Riverton said he is happy that Wreaths Across America has reached Riverton. “It makes me very proud that Continued page 5

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December 2019 | Page 3 11/7/19 9:30 AM

Middle school teacher entertains students by day and audiences by night By Jet Burnham | j.burnham@mycityjournals.com


outh Hills Middle School theater teacher “I only write things that fit my style and Ryan Erwin has a funny after school job. fit my voice,” Erwin said. “From the beginWhen he’s not teaching, Erwin performs as a ning, I didn’t have to experiment and try out stand-up comedian. different things. I just knew what I wanted “Not every theater teacher is going to be and what I wasn’t going to do.” Erwin’s style a great stand-up comedian,” Erwin said. “My is clean (no cursing or questionable jokes), personality, my training and experience in which makes him popular with local audimy career have helped me explode into this ences and appropriate for students who check realm.” out his shows. Erwin performs regularly at Wise Guys Erwin tries to keep his two jobs separate. Comedy Club (he is headlining at the Jordan However, because teaching and comedy are Landing location Nov. 30) and has opened both part of his natural personality, there is for three comedians who now have their own inevitable crossover. Erwin gives construcNetflix specials. He recently filmed a segment tive feedback to fellow comedians if asked for Dry Bar Comedy in Provo and headlined and students can expect to laugh in his classa showcase at Flappers Comedy Club in Los es. Angeles. Erwin also performs for corporate “I think being a comedian helps him be a events and private parties. better teacher,” said Thayne Ward, an eighth Erwin believes his background in the- grader. “He knows what kids like and what ater gives him an advantage over a lot of oth- makes us laugh. He’s just a really fun guy er comedians. to be around. A teach“I’ve taken script er who is more friendly writing and playwritand funny is way easier Erwin’s intermediate ing and public speaking to learn from. It’s hardacting class is classes, and that’s really er to listen to somebody currently writing a helped me to find the who’s just putting out play and will perform right pace for how I set the information.” it for parents this up my sets,” Erwin said. Erwin’s comedy is month. His musical “I can take the same stoalso influenced by his theater class will rytelling elements that day job. Teaching at a perform I teach my kids about middle school, Erwin Monty Python’s getting an audience’s hears some odd ques“Spamalot Young @ attention early, getting tions and a lot of funny Part” Jan 14-15. a hook, keeping them answers that occasionengaged, building moally become on-stage mentum and misdirecjokes. Recently, a stution—things that I go dent misunderstood a over in class that I’m able to incorporate into question, and her bizarre answer made the my own personal performance.” whole class laugh. She looked at Erwin and Erwin makes deliberate decisions about said, “You’re going to put that in your standwhat body language, props and stage move- up, aren’t you?” ments as well as material he uses to fit his Erwin claims that confidence is one of on-stage character. his greatest strengths, which sets a good ex-


Ryan Erwin is a regular at Wise Guys Comedy Club. (Photo by Lauren Perrier)

ample for his young theater students. “With comedians, they really aren’t afraid to stand out and to put themselves out there,” said ninth grader Sterling Lund. “As a teacher, him being able to put himself out there helps the students to connect to him a little bit better.” Rylee Lystrup has taken many of Erwin’s theater classes in the past three years. “He helps everyone step out of their




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comfort zone when they’re too afraid to be themselves in class,” said the ninth-grader. Erwin’s theater classes provide a safe space for students to try new things and to be themselves. Ninth grader Anna Woolley said this is because his three class rules are be friendly, be weird and be positive. Ryan Erwin is on Instagram @ryerwin and on Facebook at Ryan Erwin Comedy.l

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Continued from front page they are doing this,” Flake said. “As far as vets go, if you recognize them the best thing you can do is thank them for their service. A veteran writes a blank check up to and including his life for his country.” Johnson said the project, including volunteering to place wreaths, is a wonderful thing for families to do together. “It’s always fun to find a great December project, and this is an inspiring one,” Johnson said. She said it is also a special way for people who live far away from their veterans’ graves to be able to connect and remember them. “My family is all buried in Oregon,” Johnson said. “I can’t honor my dad’s grave in person, but I can honor a veteran’s grave in Riverton.” Abel also purchased a wreath in honor of her father. “My father is a veteran buried in a cemetery in Virginia that isn’t part of Wreaths Across America,” she said. “I bought one in honor of him to put here in Riverton.” Johnson said the cause helps people of all ages reflect on the sacrifices that veterans have made. “The whole theme of Wreaths Across America is to honor and remember,” she said. “This is an opportunity to remember our veterans and teach our children the importance of honoring those who served.” l Wreaths are placed on the graves of veterans in Arlington National Cemetery. (Photo courtesy of Wreaths Across America)

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December 2019 | Page 5

New tool to fight the opioid epidemic is seeing success, officials say By Kirk Bradford | k.bradford@mycityjournals.com


t the end of October, it had been oneyear and the anniversary of the signing of HR 6—the historic federal legislation aimed at curbing the opioid epidemic. Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs spent time to team up with a Utah company to fight the opioid epidemic specifically in Riverton. At a press conference held at the Utah State Capitol Building, Staggs joined with politicians Eric Hutchings, Aimee Winder Newton, Intermountain Healthcare Community Health Manager Nathan Peterson and other leaders to discuss a new tool in the fight against the opioid epidemic. “We have done a lot over the years to try and address opioids, crime and substance abuse, but the sad truth is we are killing our own families. We are hurting or own families, we are hurting our kids, and we are hurting our neighbors,” Hutchings said. He said during Operation Rio Grande, a “vast majority” of the addicts interviewed started from a legally prescribed substance (“numbers as high as 80%”). Staggs said there were 650 reported drug-related deaths statewide last year with many addicts using other people’s leftover prescription medication that they either stole or purchased on the black market. “Deaths from opioids now surpass deaths from motor vehicles and firearms,” he said. David Schiller is a former DEA ASAC with more than 30 years of experience with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. He led the investigation of pharmacies, hospitals, narcotic treatment providers and doctors. He is now the president and CEO of the company behind the disposal product called NarcX. “The unfortunate reality is while we’re having this press conference, somebody’s going to die while we’re up here in Utah,” Schiller told reporters before describing his company’s new product. “NarcX is the first,

Page 6 | December 2019

Amy Winder Newton (Dist. 3) expands on the benefits and her support for more policy on medication disposal. (Kirk Bradford/City Journals)

it’s the only onsite method of destruction in the United States—in the world—that as soon as you put your unwanted pill, tablet, capsule or liquid into the NarcX container, it is immediately non-divertible. The second you put it in, you couldn’t go back in and take it out.” That’s because the medication is dissolved in a chemical solution that renders harmless and no longer effective for its intended use. It is a product officials eventually hope to be issued right along with a prescription at the pharmacy. Brian Besser, DEA district agent in charge and co-chairman of the Utah Opioid Task Force, believes the introduction of a product like NarcX into devices around the

community could have a big impact. “An innovative product like this because this could be an absolute game-changer,” he said. Intermountain Riverton Hospital is also a partner in the project. They’ll be distributing a thousand individual-sized NarcX bottles for home use. Intermountain Healthcare officials identified this problem among their patients and launched a campaign in 2017 called Use Only as Directed, which is still running today. Since the campaign has been implemented, IHC has collected more than 30,000 pounds of disposed medications from drop-boxes at various pharmacies. Intermountain Healthcare’s Peterson

said he hopes the campaign can continue its current momentum to educate patients on the proper use of prescription drugs. “Looking at data drove us to make this program,” he said. “With Utah ranking within the top 10 for many years in terms of opioid overdose.” By educating people about the risk of addiction, asking for alternatives to opioids and safely disposing of leftover or expired medications, officials believe that could be the heart of the solution. “Addictions really are a medical problem,” Hutchins said. “Hitting them with a judicial stick doesn’t solve anything; you have to address what got them into the situation in the first place.”

South Valley City Journal

It’s time to talk displays the NarcX motto in regards to conversation about disposing extra medication. (Kirk Bradford/City Journals)

Six NarcX drop-off locations have been set up in Riverton, while individual bottles are available at the Riverton Hospital. (Kirk Bradford/City Journals)

Evan Done, community outreach and empowerment coordinator for Utah Support Advocates of Recovery Awareness told the City Journals he thinks “another product like this is great for the toolbox against the fight against the opioid epidemic.” USARA was provided with another similar type of product called disposeRx that you fill the prescription bottle with, and it turns it to a gel-like substance as he described. They have had family members during sessions request it because they want to know how to protect themselves as well as deal with the possibility of a relapse. USARA also has it on standby for 12-step group “sponsors” who can end up in situations time to time where someone has had a slip. “Chemically dependent people know that raiding grandma’s medicine cabinet will always produce something to get high,” Done

said. “Being able to remove the temptation a about it. Understanding and access to recov- eration for about a month. The drop-off sites huge step, but it’s only one tool for the tool- ery are what will fight this the best because are available in public places such as Riverbox. Knowing your potential for addiction is addiction doesn’t discriminate.” ton City Hall and fire departments. critical, and there has been a lot in the news Staggs has seen success with the imThe drop-off containers cost about $500 per unit. While this may be expensive for varying city budgets, Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, said he is open for dialogue in the legislation that will help Utah cities use state grants to implement these drug disposal containers in various communities. “If there’s anything that precludes a city from putting them where they want, we want to be able to help them and address that,” Eric Hutchings Thatcher said. He is proposing to introduce two separate bills, one which will ban the flushing of about this opioid epidemic. Alcohol kills plementation of NarcX in the community. prescription drugs and another to attach state far more people than opiates, and addiction Staggs approved the placement of five to six funding to help cities pay for the drug disposdoesn’t discriminate, but we aren’t talking kiosks in Riverton, which have been in op- al containers. l

Addictions really are a medical problem. Hitting them with a judicial stick doesn’t solve anything; you have to address what got them into the situation in the first place.

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Dont Text & Drive

Santa sightings, Christmas concerts and tree lightings: Inexpensive holiday fun for the family By Christy Jepson | Christy@mycityjournals.com

A girl visits with Mr. and Mrs. Claus at the Riverton’s annual Christmas event, Santa’s Arrival in Riverton. (Photo courtesy Riverton City Communications)


udgets can get tight around this time of year. Sometimes taking your family to certain holiday events can be pricey. But don’t despair. Take a peek at this list (but not Santa’s!) and enjoy inexpensive holiday fun for the whole family.

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p.m. sharp. Not only will there be thousands of candy canes hidden throughout the park, some of those candy canes can be redeemed for a new holiday toy. There will be a special arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus on a fire truck to meet the children. Santa will be available DRAPER for photos in the gazebo. There will also be Draper Tree Lighting Ceremony: Mon- hot chocolate and jumbo marshmallow roastday, Dec. 2 from 6-8 p.m. at the Draper City ing. Park. This celebration will consist of light- HERRIMAN Night of Lights: Monday, Dec. 2 from ing over 65,000 lights, including those on the large willow tree in the center of the park. 5-9 p.m. at the Herriman City Hall and Crane You can also visit with Santa, listen to live Park (5355 W. Herriman Main St.). Enjoy the music, and stroll through the park. Each night night while watching the tree lighting, visit after Dec. 2, the lights come on at 5:15 p.m. with Santa, make a holiday craft, eat at one of the many food trucks, listen to live music and turn off at 10:30 p.m. Candy Cane Hunt: Monday, Dec. 9 from and watch a laser light show. 4-5 p.m. at the Draper Historic Park, 12625 RIVERTON Santa’s Arrival in Riverton: Monday, S. 900 East. Children ages 6 and younger will enjoy this free event that starts at 4 Dec. 2 from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Riverton City


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SPECIAL EDUCATION CHILD FIND Every child is entitled to a public education regardless of disability. Children with disabilities may go without services because families are not fully aware of their options. If you know of a child, birth to age 22, who is not receiving any education services or feel that your child may be in need of special education services, please contact your local school or call the Special Education Department in Jordan School District at (801) 567-8176. SPECIAL EDUCATION RECORDS DESTRUCTION On January 31, 2020, Jordan School District will destroy special education records of students born prior to September, 1992. Former special education students who are 27 years old may request their records from the school last attended; otherwise, the records will be destroyed. CARSON SMITH SCHOLARSHIP Public school students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) may be eligible for a scholarship to attend a private school through the Carson Smith Scholarship program. Further information is available at http://www.schools.utah.gov/sars/Scholarships.aspx

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Park (1452 W. 12600 South). Come greet Santa as he and Mrs. Claus arrive to the park on a fire truck. Enjoy making crafts, cookie decorating, visiting with vendors, writing letters to Santa, roasting marshmallows, and enjoying a free warm scone with honey butter and a cup of hot chocolate. ‘Twas the Lights before Christmas: Dec. 6-12, 14-18, 21-23 from 6-9 p.m. at the Riverton City Park. This new holiday event costs $10 per vehicle. While staying warm in your car, you can read “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” on giant storyboards and see holiday lights. (Enter the park through 12800 South via 1300 West) Christmas Night of Music Concert: Monday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. at Riverton High School, 12476 S. Silverwolf Way. Beautiful holiday music will be performed by a 100-member choir and orchestra from the area.


Mad Holiday Science: Thursday, Dec. 12 at 4 p.m. at the Sandy Library, 10100 S. Petunia Way. Santa Eggbert will explore science with a holiday twist. Children will get to watch: The Northern Lights, foam the melts before their eyes, indoor fireworks and dry ice experiments. Christmas in the Wizarding World: Visit this unique retail experience now until Jan. 6. The hours at The Shops at South Town are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. This is the final year that this event will be in Utah. Visitors can browse for

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free or if there is a Harry Potter fan in your family there is a wide selection of Harry Potter merchandise. Santa’s Toy Bag presented by the Utah Puppet Theater: Monday, Dec. 23 at 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. at the Sandy Library.


5662 S. Cougar Lane (4800 West) in Kearns. Christmas Carole Sing-Along: Monday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. at the Vivint Smart Home Arena. This free concert is presented by the Larry H. Miller family and will feature songs by Ryan Innes, with the emcee being Jason Hewlett. The Grand Christmas Hotel Holiday Window Stroll at The Grand America Hotel: From now until Dec. 31 be amazed at the 14 handcrafted whimsical holiday-themed window displays. Open Monday through Thursdays 4-8 p.m., Friday and Saturdays 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and from Dec. 21-31 the window displays are open Monday-Sunday 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Parking fees apply if you park at the hotel. The hotel is located at 555 S. Main Street.

West Jordan Arts Annual Holiday Concert: Saturday, Dec. 7 from 6-8 p.m. featuring several of West Jordan’s City’s musical groups including the West Jordan Symphony, Mountain West Chorale, West Jordan City Band and the West Jordan Jazz Band. This event will be held at the Viridian Event Center (8030 S. 1825 West). The West Jordan Symphony’s 26th annual Handel’s “Messiah” sing-along: Sunday, Dec. 15 from 7-9 p.m. at the Viridian Event Center, 8030 S. 1825 West. This program will feature local soloists and the West Jordan Symphony and Mountain West Chorale. l

Light the Night Tree Lighting Celebration: Friday, Dec. 6 from 6-8:30 p.m. After the tree lighting ceremony, walk down Towne Center Drive and enjoy the festive holiday candy window displays, shop at the Winter Market, visit with Santa, enjoy hot cocoa, gingerbread house displays, live music, sleigh rides, drum line and a holiday movie. SoJo Choral Arts presents the 15th Annual Sounds of the Season Choir and Orchestra Holiday Concert: Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. or 7 WEST JORDAN The Magic of the Christmas Season: p.m. at Bingham High School, 2160 S. Jordan Parkway. This is a free concert and will Tuesday, Dec. 3 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the West Jordan Library, 8030 S. 1825 West. This last a little over an hour. SALT LAKE CITY festive night is presented by Mont “Magic” The Utah Olympic Oval Holiday Festi- and children who attend will find out what val: Saturday, Dec. 7 from 6-10 p.m. At this happened to The Grinch and learn what other event there will be an oval figure skating ice reindeer games Rudolph wasn’t allowed to show, crafts, a visit and pictures with Mrs. play. Children will find the answers to these and Mr. Claus, a photo booth and public ice silly Christmas questions and learn some skating. Admission is $5 for adults (13 years magic tricks. old and older) and $3 for kids (3-12 years A Visit from St. Nicholas: Saturday, old). Ice skate rentals are $3.50 per person. Dec. 7 from 11 a.m. -2 p.m. Bring your kids There is free entry when you bring a non-per- for an afternoon of Christmas stories and take ishable food item benefiting the Kearns Food your picture with Santa. This is a free event A child explores the unique retail experience, ChristPantry. Skate rental fees will still apply, how- at the Viridian Event Center (8030 S. 1825 mas in the Wizarding World at The Shops at South ever. The Utah Olympic Oval is located at West). Town. (Photo courtesy The Shops at South Town)





he long line at the local auto body shop isn’t The Utah Department of Public Safety sugjust for oil changes, it’s for winter tires too. gests on its website to have jumper cables, a With temperatures (and leaves) dropping, it’s tow rope and small shovel in case the car gets time for a refresher course on safe winter driving. stuck, reflectors or flares to make sure your car is visible to others driving, flashlight and bat1-Know the conditions Technology affords us the privilege of teries, extra winter clothes, first-aid kit, battery knowing road conditions before ever leaving or solar powered radio, sleeping bag, fresh water and non-perishable food, paper towels and the house. Utah Department of Transportation has hand warmers.

more than 2,200 traffic cameras or sensors which gives visuals and data on all major UDOT roads. Drivers can then adjust their routes or schedules according to the heaviness of traffic making for less congestion and less risk for accidents. The UDOT app means you can see all those cameras from your phone. 2-Prepare the car Make sure the car is prepared for the road conditions, first with good tires. Snow tires give greater tread for better traction. Snow and ice should be completely removed from the windows, headlights and taillights prior to driving to ensure visibility. If your car is parked outside overnight, place towels over the windows. This keeps the windows from icing over.

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3-Control the vehicle Keeping the car under control requires some safe driving tips. The most obvious: drive slow. Despite our impatience or urgency to get to the desired location, slow driving is the safest driving. Staying under the speed limit, which is meant for ideal conditions, becomes even more important when traveling over snow, ice, standing water or slush. In drivers education courses, prospective drivers learn about the rule for distance between your car and the one in front of you. Driving 60 mph? Stay six car lengths back. 70 mph? Seven car lengths back. This distance should be increased even more during wet conditions to allow the car time and space to stop without rear ending the vehicle in front.



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Councilwoman Martin reflects on first and only term By Justin Adams | justin.a@thecityjournals.com


t was one-and-done for Councilwoman Nicole Martin, who opted not to run for re-election after one term of representing Herriman’s District 4 residents. But she said she’s proud of what she was able to accomplish in her four years on the council. Prior to being elected to the Herriman City Council, Martin already had a lot of local government experience from her professional career as a communications specialist, working as a public information officer for Herriman from 2009 to 2012 and as a communications director for Sandy city from 2013 to 2018. That experience allowed her to hit the ground running. “When the opportunity arose to serve on the other side of the desk, so to speak, I thought that was a good service I could give,” she said. “It was a natural extension to go into public policy at that point, putting that experience to good use.” It’s fitting then that two of Martin’s accomplishments, which she said she’s most proud of, directly deal with resident communication. First, Martin said she led an effort to establish the city’s first community survey program, which the city uses to solicit feedback from residents on various issues impacting the city.

Page 10 | December 2019

“Because it’s such a fast-growing community, they want to have some input, as they should, to the direction of the city,” she said. The second accomplishment was the formation of the city’s Community Outreach program, which the South Valley Journal highlighted in our previous issue. The program requires potential developers in the city to hold neighborhood meetings with the residents that would be impacted by the development so they could respond to their concerns, and in some cases, adjust their projects accordingly. “You always felt that developers came in, and it was one-and-done; they were there to make a profit,” Martin said. “The standard we set with this program is, that is not good enough for us in Herriman. We want community builders.” That Herriman has such a program is a direct result of Martin’s professional experience in other cities, as she drew inspiration for it from a similar program that was established in Sandy city prior to her time there as communications director. “Having watched that success in Sandy, I immediately wanted to implement that in Herriman as well,” she said. “Without a doubt, our projects have improved as a result of having this program in place.”

Martin said those efforts to improve communication with residents has been critical for the city during a time in which it has continued to grow rapidly. “The growth has been incredible,” she said. “It is a fast-growing community. It really feels like the city is changing before your eyes. That makes the pace of everything so fast. Decisions have to be made quickly. Opportunities have to be seized or they’re lost. But you also have to have an eye toward long-term planning. While you’re trying to balance the need to move nimbly, you also want to be wise in your decisions as well.” When asked why she chose not to run for re-election, Martin said her decision had a lot to do with the negativity that pervades even local politics these days. “In some respects, you get tired of the negative climate,” she said. “I hope we don’t see this trend continue, where instead of looking for solutions, it’s all personal attacks.” She also said there’s value in introducing new ideas and new eyes to the council, referring to the addition of her replacement, newly elected Steven Shields. “I think Steven Shields seems excited Councilwoman Martin may have just served one term, and passionate about the role,” she said. “I but her extensive professional experience in the world of local government allowed her to do a lot more than wish him well.” l most one-term officials.

South Valley City Journal

Librarians provide a smorgasbord of books to whet students’ reading appetites By Jet Burnham | j.burnham@mycityjournal.com


here are 5,000 books in the newly stocked library at Bluffdale’s new Mountain Point Elementary. School librarians Ashlee Frisbey and Salwa Bernier invited students to a book tasting to whet their appetites for trying new flavors of books. “We wanted to help children to get better acquainted with books that they might not normally think to look at or to check out,” Frisbey said. When classes visit the school library each week, they have a limited time to chose a book to check out for the week. The book tasting, as part of Children’s Book week, provided time for students to sample books from selections of various genres. “We pulled books that might not normally be checked out along with popular books, and unusual ones that maybe they wouldn’t think to check out,” Frisbey said. “They could try the different genres and see what they like.” Clad in chef hats and aprons, Frisbey and Salwa encouraged students to try new flavors of books and to make note of interesting titles on a paper menu they provided. Students can refer to the menus to decide what books to check out in the following weeks. Fifth grade teacher Sarah Sterling said students often resort to books and authors

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they are already familiar with. She said the book tasting provided books of assorted genres by a wide range of authors for them to explore. “This really helps them understand that there are other books out there, too, that they can be interested in,” she said. “This is a really good way to expose them to that instead of just setting them free into the library.” Frisbey said popular books among elementary students include the historical fiction “I Survived” series, graphic novels such as the “Amulet” series by Kazu Kibuishi, W. Bruce Cameron’s books about dogs, and the “Captain Underpants” series by Dav Pilke. She said the “Dork Diaries” series by Rachel Renee Russell and the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series by Jeff Kinney have been a hit with kids for years. “With this book tasting, hopefully they’ll be able to find something else that they also like,” Frisbey said. “We all have different tastes, and just like food, there are some things that we like and don’t like and we don’t always love everything that we try.” Fifth grader Teigan Black said the book tasting gave him the chance to look through some picture books that he would have normally passed over because they are below his reading level. But he made note of the book

Students peruse a pile of books, looking for a good read. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

“Mrs. Watson Wants Your Teeth” by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Harry Bliss to check out at a later time. “I didn’t get to read all of it but it was interesting, the first pages of it,” he said. Austen Everett, another fifth grader, sampled “Peanut Butter Aliens” by Joe McGee. “It was not what I thought it was but it

still had a really, really intriguing cover,” he said. Austen loves to read a variety of genres of books. He is also likes a lot of different kinds of foods. His favorite food is sushi. When asked if he would choose one over the other, he said he would choose books “because they last a lot longer.” l

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December 2019 | Page 11

Colds may be a thing of the past By Priscilla Schnarr


More and more people are saying they just don’t get colds anymore. They are using a new device made of pure copper, which scientists say kills cold and flu viruses. Doug Cornell invented the device in 2012. “I haven’t had a single cold since then,” he says. People were skeptical but New research: Copper stops colds if used early. EPA and university studies Businesswoman Rosaleen says when demonstrate repeatedly that viruses and bacteria die almost instantly when people are sick around her she uses CopperZap morning and night. “It saved me touched by copper. That’s why ancient Greeks and Egyp- last holidays,” she said. “The kids had tians used copper to purify water and colds going around, but not me.” Some users say it also helps with heal wounds. They didn’t know about sinuses. Attorney Donna Blight had a viruses and bacteria, but now we do. Scientists say the high conductance 2-day sinus headache. When her Copperof copper disrupts the electrical balance Zap arrived, she tried it. “I am shocked!” in a microbe cell and destroys the cell in she said. “My head cleared, no more headache, no more congestion.” seconds. Some users say copper stops nightSo some hospitals tried copper touch surfaces like faucets and doorknobs. time stuffiness if used before bed. One This cut the spread of MRSA and other man said, “Best sleep I’ve had in years.” Copper can also stop flu if used earillnesses by over half, and saved lives. Colds start after cold viruses get in ly and for several days. Lab technicians your nose, so the vast body of research placed 25 million live flu viruses on a gave Cornell an idea. When he next CopperZap. No viruses were found alive felt a cold about to start, he fashioned a soon after. Dr. Bill Keevil led one of the teams smooth copper probe and rubbed it genconfirming the discovery. He placed miltly in his nose for 60 seconds. “It worked!” he exclaimed. “The cold lions of disease germs on copper. “They never got going.” It worked again every started to die literally as soon as they touched the surface,” he said. time. The handle is curved and finely texHe asked relatives and friends to try it. They said it worked for them, too, so tured to improve contact. It kills germs he patented CopperZap™ and put it on picked up on fingers and hands to protect you and your family. the market. Copper even kills deadly germs that Now tens of thousands of people have tried it. Nearly 100% of feedback have become resistant to antibiotics. If said the copper stops colds if used within you are near sick people, a moment of 3 hours after the first sign. Even up to 2 handling it may keep serious infection days, if they still get the cold it is milder away. The EPA says copper still works even than usual and they feel better. Pat McAllister, age 70, received one when tarnished. It kills hundreds of diffor Christmas and called it “one of the ferent disease germs so it can prevent sebest presents ever. This little jewel real- rious or even fatal illness. CopperZap is made in America of ly works.” Now thousands of users have pure copper. It has a 90-day full money simply stopped getting colds. People often use CopperZap preven- back guarantee. It is $69.95. Get $10 off each CopperZap with tively. Frequent flier Karen Gauci used to get colds after crowded flights. Though code UTCJ8. Go to www.CopperZap.com or call skeptical, she tried it several times a day on travel days for 2 months. “Sixteen toll-free 1-888-411-6114. Buy once, use forever. flights and not a sniffle!” she exclaimed. advertorial

Page 12 | December 2019

Nathan DePew evades a tackle against Riverton. (Photo by Tonia McPeak

Herriman Red rebounds to win sixth straight state 7s Rugby championship By Mark Jackson | m.jackson@mycityjournals.com


his fall, Herriman Rugby’s top 7s varsity team clinched the final tournament game of the season against its top rival, United Rugby Club. The final three minutes of the game were especially physical and nerve-racking: Herriman Red players defended their goal almost non-stop to a 21-17 lead, earning a state championship. With five consecutive state wins behind them, 7s Coach Zach Thorum admits his players don’t easily think of themselves as the underdog. However, this year’s team is relatively young and inexperienced playing together. High school 7s rugby is played with teams of 7 on large pitches. Teams accumu-

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late points in three statewide tournaments to win by the final score. Herriman Red suffered a disappointing defeat from United Ruby Club in the first tournament’s final. Before United, no team had managed to score against Herriman Red. United is Herriman’s greatest rival. Of the last 15 tournament finals in the region, Thorum estimates Herriman has faced United 13 times. He admires United’s coaches and said this season, the team forced Herriman to refocus. The loss reminded Herriman’s young players not to take any result for granted. “We thought we could blow out [United] just like every other team,” scrum-half Strider Fountaine. “We were playing kind of

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for ourselves, being individual players, and it showed.” Still watching United celebrate, the team’s captains told Thorum they had no time to nurse their wounds; it was time to train. Nathan Depew, Mason Barker, Fountaine and Daxton McPeak each stepped up, said Program Director Jeff Wilson. Some led in action, some inspired the team with their words. Jackson Hammer, an All-American, especially stood out. Though the young men had less time playing together on the field than most of the program’s past teams, the captains make up for it with extra training at parent Melissa Hammer’s gym, and informal practices and hangouts. “We’re not necessarily all the best athletes, but we hang out after practice, we get food together — we’re kind of a family like that,” Fountaine said. The parents of the players are proud of the boys for coming together and reaching higher: “They know their brothers are counting on them in life,” said Melissa Hammer, mother of Jackson Hammer. The young men point to Jackson Hammer as a leader among the leaders. “He went hard, always trying to be first in conditioning, in warmup, in everything,” Barker said. Their hard work and interdependence may have been the key difference: Herriman

Above left: Coaches and Players celebrate after a close victory over United to win the State 7s Tournament. (Photo by Tonia McPeak) Above right: Herriman defends their goal line as Mason Barker upends a United player. (Photo by Tonia McPeak)

Red won the final two tournaments, dominatThe team leaves itself little time for paing their preliminary competition before ek- rading: The spring season brings grueling ing out defensive victories over United. games between 15-man teams. Hammer was named “Man of the Match” Herriman’s players have their eyes set in the final game. on a higher prize: Their first-ever national ti-

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The Bready Bunch: Salt Lake County assessor, wife enjoy the art of gifting hand-made loaves By Jennifer J. Johnson


ast spring, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson introduced each of the “electeds”—or elected officials—comprising Salt Lake County Government to county residents attending the mayor’s cross-county tour. When it came time to introduce Salt Lake County Assessor Kevin Jacobs, the mayor’s description of a guy whose job of maintaining records on taxable property, curiously, made the mouth water. Right alongside spewing details of Jacobs’s office being responsible for maintaining information on more than 300,000 properties covering more than 700 miles and a market value of more than $70 billion, Wilson gushed about Jacobs’s unique annual contribution to Salt Lake County. Every December, Jacobs “aprons up” and methodically, artistically, leveraging his Riverton home’s three ovens, bakes individual loaves of bread for the 120-plus members of the Salt Lake County Assessor’s Office, as well as the Mayor’s office and the Salt Lake County Council and their staff.

love of homemade bread. Instead of eating dessert, even as a boy, Jacobs gravitated to bread, grabbing a slice as he excused himself from the dinner table. As a young groom, he was asked by his new bride what he would like for breakfast, as they began their new life together. Jacobs was predictable in throwing down the gauntlet: “Make bread like my mom.” Jacobs’s “sweetheart,” wife Debbie, did that and then some: Kevin Jacobs confides that his wife somehow managed to even oneup the bread he grew up with.


Together, the couple found bread-making a life staple. Not only would they joyously consume it, but they would bake loaves for their three sons’ little league baseball fundraisers, and then, in the boys’ later years at Riverton High School, they would lovingly prepare loaves for sale for wrestling and cross country team fundraisers. Kevin Jacobs has worked in the Salt Lake County Assessor’s Office for 30 years. THE BEGINNINGS OF THE BAK- In 2013, he assumed leadership of the ofER fice when the former assessor retired. Even The tradition, like his bread, is home- before he headed the office, he and Debbie made. Jacobs shared their loaf-making love with the Jacobs grew up in Soda Springs, Idaho. office. From an early age, he developed his lifelong About five years ago, Debbie Jacobs


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Salt Lake County Assessor Kevin Jacobs and wife Debbie have made baking and gifting individual loaves for 100-plus SLCO employees an annual holiday tradition. (Kevin Jacobs)

Page 14 | December 2019

South Valley City Journal

Every year, employees of the Salt Lake County Assessor’s Office—as well as members of the Mayor’s Office and County Council—are treated to bready goodness, courtesy of SLCO Assessor Kevin Jacobs. The Assessor’s Office is also treated to holiday rolls, courtesy of Jacobs and his quality-control chief, wife Debbie. (Kevin Jacobs)

was diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered from eating gluten, core to the very thing she loved to make: Gluten is a protein in wheat, barley, rye and other grains. It’s what makes dough elastic and gives bread its chewy texture. Kevin Jacobs’s baking mate turned to production-line supervisor. “She inspects every loaf,” he said.


“I always look forward to the holidays and Kevin’s fresh baked bread,” Wilson said. “It’s my favorite time of the year,” adds Senior Policy Adviser Weston Clark, who describes Kevin Jacobs’s bread as “amazing.” The adjectives about the bread seem to spread as sweet as the accompanying, homemade jam Jacobs also gifts. “Legendary” is how Jacobs’s assistant, Corie Soderman, describes the annual gift. “We all wish we could bake like him. We love working for him; he sets the tone for a great office, and the bread just tops it off.”


“It’s a lot of fun,” Kevin Jacobs said. That said, he admits to having felt pressure, the occasions he gifted the late Sam Granato, former Salt Lake County councilman and owner of a chain or Italian delis, with his loaves. “It was,” after all, “Sam Granato,” he recalls, emphasizing Granato’s gourmet credentials with verbal inflection. Kevin Jacobs’s bread passed the taste

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Salt Lake County Assessor Kevin Jacobs

test with Granato, who complimented the baking-obsessed assessor. Kevin Jacobs finds his biggest compliment is that office colleagues who are now familiar with the annual bread gifting are reluctant to bring their loaves home, preferring to enjoy them themselves at their office. Sneaking a bite, then, perhaps safeguarding their gifted bread in a desk drawer. Kevin Jacobs not only bakes holiday bread and delivers homemade jam to the office, but he bakes the rolls for the county seasonal holiday party. So, Dec. 10 and 11 of this year may be time to buddy up with an employee of the Salt Lake County Assessor’s Office—or just get to know the amiable Kevin Jacobs. l

December 2019 | Page 15

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Silver Rush legacy spans 21 years By Jet Burnham | j.burnham@mycityjournals.com


t’s December, and in Riverton, that means it is Silver Rush season. For 21 years, Riverton High School students have raised money for local charities during the month of December by hosting activities and requestBreton Yates Elena Douglas M Woseth Angela Brimhall D.O. FAOCD M.D. FAAD Hadjicharalambous M.D. ing donations from the community. M.D. FAAD “It’s just Riverton culture,” said Student Body Officer Matthew Drachman. “It’s amazing to see what some students are willing to do. You go out in the cold for a few hours trying to raise money to do some good.” The tradition began when Riverton High School opened in 1999. Meghann Brimhall, sophomore class president that year, remembers the very first Silver Rush. “We used to go caroling at the grocery stores with the big Mount Olympus water Shane Farr jugs,” she said. “I remember being freezing, Michael R Swinyer Alisa Seeberger but we always made the best of it, though. It P.A. -C P.A. -C F.N.P. -C was so much fun to go out and do that with your friends.” Main Office: 1548 East 4500 South, Suite 202, Salt Lake City She remembers how heavy the jugs became when full of money they collected at South Jordan Office: 4040 West Daybreak Pkwy, Suite 200, South Jordan basketball games and community events. “The jugs would be totally empty when Phone: 801-266-8841 we started and completely full by the time the game was over,” Brimhall said. “The community was so excited about being able to come and watch a local high school play, and


Page 16 | December 2019

they were all very generous.” It was a successful charity drive. “We would sit in the student government room and count money for what seemed like eternity,” she said. Brimhall still lives in Riverton and supports Silver Rush as a community member. However, last year she decided to do more. She rallied other RHS alumni to donate to Silver Rush through a competitive Facebook Fundraiser. Alumni from every graduating class donated, but Brimhall’s own graduating class of 2002 won the competition by donating the largest amount. The combined efforts of past students added more than $1,300 to the charity drive total. “It’s been really fun to be a part of it again and to see how many people still are so excited about Silver Rush,” Brimhall said. She is planning to hold the competition again for this year’s charity, which will be announced Dec. 2 at the Silver Rush opening assembly. “I hope that we can continue to do it, and as a new graduating class comes through, we just keep earning more and more because there’s that many more people to be a part of it,” she said. “I hope that the kids that are getting ready to graduate are excited that they

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2018-19 student body officers work hard and have fun raising money for their charity. (Photo courtesy Katie Borgmeier/RHS)

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Brimhall said Silver Rush reminds her there is still good in the world. She is impressed with students who donate time and money for the charity. Her son, a senior at RHS, works extra hours at his job just to have money to spend on Silver Rush activities. Brimhall looks forward to having all six of her children attend RHS and participate in Silver Rush. “It just makes me so excited that they get to be a part of that tradition,” she said. “They’re going to be able to have some of those same experiences that I did.” Community members are invited to share in Silver Rush experiences: Dec. 2 - Opening Assembly Dec. 3 - Silver Rush CD Concert Dec. 5 - Improv Show Dec. 6 - Battle of the Bands Dec. 7 - Silver Rush Boutique and Movie Night Dec. 10 - Mr. Silver Rush Pageant Dec. 16 - Silver Swap basketball game Dec. 20 - Closing Assembly and announcement of total funds earned A portion of the purchases made on these nights will benefit Silver Rush: Dec. 4 - Panda Express Dec. 5 - Rock Creek Dec. 9 - Chick Fil A Dec. 10 - Zupas Dec. 11 - Marcos Dec. 17 - Wallaby’s Dec. 18 - Rock Creek For event info, check the calendar on the RHS website, follow Silver Rush on Facebook and @rhs_silverwolves on Instagram. Alumni can contribute through Facebook Fundraisers at Battle of the Alumni Silver Rush 2019 or drop off donations to the school’s front office.  l

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can still be part of it.” Current SBO Maura Broadhead said everyone loves to be involved in Silver Rush. “The more you get involved with it, the more it impacts you,” she said. “It builds the school and the community when everyone’s going out to and supporting events.” Students notice a change in the atmosphere of the school during Silver Rush season. “We don’t just change the charity or the community,” said SBO Becca Frischknecht. “There’s a whole new atmosphere at the school. It just feels like such a happy time because everyone’s throwing themselves at the service.” “I think it’s just so cool how passionate everyone gets for three weeks—it’s insane,” said SBO Savannah Heiner. Student government members, especially, put in a lot of work planning and running the three weeks of events, sacrificing time, energy and sleep. “At the closing assembly, the student government is always crying,” said Broadhead, who has worked hard planning this year’s Silver Rush activities. “I thought maybe it’s because they’re tired; maybe because they were really connected to the cause that they probably haven’t slept in three days. Or, it’s a combination of all of it.” She is counting on adrenaline to keep her going through the next few busy weeks. Mountain Ridge and Herriman high school will also hold charity drives in December. Even though some of the neighborhoods and events overlap, Riverton High’s SBOs try not to make it a competition among the schools but to encourage students to focus on the spirit of charity. The Silver Rush motto is: “It’s about the change, it’s not about the money.”

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Riverton Football honors ‘biggest fan’ Carson Lloyd with a senior year touchdown at homecoming By Mark Jackson | m.jackson@mycityjournals.com


wo weeks before Riverton’s homecoming football game, Carson Lloyd approached his friend and team captain, Isaac Rengers, and grinned: “I want to play football at homecoming,” he said. Lloyd had never played in a football game, but his friends on the team were determined to make it possible. Carson may be known best for his extroverted personality and his confidence — he is an established presence at Riverton sports events. He manages several Riverton teams, including the varsity football team, and wrestles. However, an extremely rare disorder called Kabuki syndrome prevents him from playing football. Still, Carson has always gravitated toward the sport. He attends every game and has memorized the cheers so he can perform them alongside the cheerleaders. He helps Rengers’ mother, Sadie Rengers, to operate the snack shack at home games. Riverton High School footbal coach Jody Morgan welcomes Carson to every practice and camp, calling him “Riverton’s biggest fan.” He said Carson inspires the team.

Carson’s mother, Ashley Lloyd, admires Morgan’s care and love for the players. Like any parent, she is nervous to send her son to football camps but trusts Morgan and the team to look out for her son. Morgan has a background in special education, and Sadie Rengers said he has fostered an accepting and understanding culture within Riverton sports. Still, Carson has never lived his dream of playing on the team. Now a senior, he was spending his final football season without even had the opportunity to try out. So, when Carson told his mother he wanted to play at homecoming, Ashley Rengers approached Morgan and asked if her son could score a touchdown. Isaac Rengers, who plays quarterback, even offered to have Carson to take his position on the field for the game — anything to get Carson on the field. Morgan called Copper Hills High School football coach Cory Dodds, and both teams’ players agreed to give Carson an opportunity to score. Getting official approval was unexpectedly complicated — but one day before the game, Morgan called Ashley Lloyd to confirm: “Carson can play.” Carson makes a “love” gesture before leading the team onto the field. (Photo by Ashley Lloyd) Both teams agreed to an untimed down

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South Valley City Journal

before the game: Isaac would hand Carson A Riverton player runs with Carson, followed by a the ball, and he would rush for the end zone. KSL photographer. (Photo by Ashley Lloyd) Isaac’s Rengers’ brother and fellow Riverton player, Kaden Rengers, sent a hurried last-minute group message asking the team for gear in Carson’s size. Within two minutes, Sadie Rengers said, someone had offered cleats, and the rest of the gear quickly followed. At the game, Carson led his team onto the field in full uniform. Then, he received the hand-off and scrambled through the gauntlet into the Copper Hills end zone to some of the loudest cheering Riverton players have ever heard before the start of a game. “It made me so happy!” Carson said. For his team, it was an opportunity to give back: “He’s probably the most genuinely kind person you’d ever meet,” Isaac Rengers said. “It was great to turn that around and do someExplore your inner peace thing kind for him — to see him get the payout, you know? Like karma, kind of.” The experience was meaningful and instructive to the players. “If you really want something, you can achieve that, if you go for it,” Sadie Rengers Mention this ad and get said. Although Carson has now achieved the 1 month unlimited yoga for biggest dream of his senior year, he isn’t fin$30! ished dreaming yet. ($125 value) “I want to wrestle,” he said. And, he adds, almost mischievously: “I want to be prom king!” KUTV produced a short video segment breatheyogaslc.com about the touchdown play. 12544 S Pasture Road October was Kabuki Syndrome AwareRiverton, 84009 ness Month. Read more about Kabuki syndrome at kabukisyndrome.org.l

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Herriman Elections result in one newcomer to city council By Justin Adams | justin.a@thecityjournals.com


t was a relatively quiet municipal election cycle for Herriman as just one city council seat was in contention. Councilwoman Nicole Martin opted not to run, opening up her District 4 seat to a competitive race without an incumbent. Out of a five-candidate field in the primary election, Steven Shields (56% of the primary vote) and Darryl Fenn (19%) advanced to the primary. Shields maintained his lead in the general election, cruising to a victory with 68.9% of the vote. The election turnout for the District 4 race wasn’t very good as only 1,849 ballots were counted from a possible 4,328 registered voters for a participation rate of 19.8%. The average rate for municipal elections in Salt Lake County was 33.7%. In the only other city council election, Councilman and current Mayor Protempore Jared Henderson ran unopposed. Nearly 600 District 1 Steven Shields will be the only new face on the Herriman City residents voted for Henderson in the Council next year. (Courtesy of Steven Shields) one-sided election. l

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Herriman wins region title, bows out in quarterfinals Photos by Justin Adams

Above: Senior Kepu Fifita runs the ball against American Fork in the quarterfinals. Fifita led the Mustangs running attack this year scoring five touchdowns and averaging 60 yards a game. Herriman shared the region title with East and Bingham this year with a 4-1 region record and 9-3 record overall. The Mustangs only losses this year came against the two finalists (Corner Canyon and American Fork) and a semifinalist (region foe East, who fell against American Fork in the semifinals). Right: Senior Jaxon James evades the pocket looking for a throw downfield against American Fork in the quarterfinals. The 9-3 season was Herriman’s best finish since 2015 when it hoisted the state championship.

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Riverton City celebrates community veterans with Veteran’s Day program

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ore than 100 people attended Riverton City’s Veterans Day Program at Sandra N. Lloyd Community Center to honor local and national veterans Nov. 11. The house was nearly full by the time everyone had settled in to watch the initial posting of the United States and Utah state flags by the color guard. The American Legion, a volunteer veteran organization that performs flag ceremonies for community events and funerals and engages in community service for other veterans and their family members, opened and closed the program. When the flags were posted and a moment of unity recognized, Americans who stand on different sides of the aisle in what has been called one of the most politically divisive times in U.S. history, all stood in respect of the soldiers who fought to defend the United States and to pledge allegiance to the American flag. Mayor Trent Staggs then made opening remarks. Staggs early on gave a nod to former President Ronald Reagan and his iconic Oct. 27, 1964, Republican National Convention speech when he said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected

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Ben Dayley speaks at the Riverton Veteran’s Day Program. (Kaleigh Stock/City Journals)

and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.” Staggs spoke kindly of Sen. Mitt Romney and Sen. Mike Lee, both of whom he said he has worked with personally, by quoting their support for men and women who have served in the military. Following the opening segment of the Riverton Veterans Day Program, the Riverton Art’s Council announced the winners of the Riverton Veterans Day Essay Contest. Contestants were required to be between the ages of 8 and 18 and write about the story of a military veteran who made an impact on the world, the local community or the child’s personal life. All three winners had proudly written about their grandfathers. Annalynn Stewart was announced as the third-place winner and received a $25 award. In second place was Isaac Underwood, who received a $50 award. Last, Luke Perry received a $100 award for his first-place winning essay. After a last round of applause for the essay contest winners, Ben Dayley, a technical sergeant for the Air Force Reserve, and

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Ray Shepherd, who served in Vietnam, spoke shortly about their experiences in the United States military. Dayley quoted an unknown author when he said, “A veteran is someone who, at one point in their life wrote a blank check made payable to The United States of America for an amount up to and including their life.” He commented that he was proud to serve the U.S. military because he and all of his military companions, “have had complete strangers thank us for our service.” Van Pilkington, singer for the Riverton Jazz Band, then took the stage to say he thinks of his father who served in South Korea whenever he thinks of military men and women, and so he was very “pleased to perform” that evening. The jazz band put on a show, starting with Glenn Miller’s “American Patrol” and then switching gears to “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood. Next, Pilkington crooned classics, “You Make Me Feel So Young” and “Fly Me to the Moon” with impressive Sinatra-like vocals. When the band played Glenn Miller’s popular “In the Mood,” children and teens couldn’t help but tap their toes and dance to the music. The band closed with “The Armed Forces Medley” and the “National Anthem.” Terry Andersen and Kelly Gorton played echo taps to end the musical portion of the Riverton Veterans Day Program. The program closed with the retrieval of the flags by Van Pilkington and the Riverton Jazz Band perform all-American jazz tunes. (Kaleigh Stock/City Journals) the American Legion.l

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December 2019 | Page 23

Proud families share veterans’ stories By Jet Burnham | j.burnham@mycityjournals.com


lackridge Elementary held a special assembly to honor veterans. Each student wore a paper poppy over their heart in remembrance of World War I veterans. As the fifth graders sang an armed forces medley, both active duty military members and veterans were invited to stand and be recognized. Third grade students handed poppy pins and letters of appreciation written by students to them as they stood. Students and faculty members also stood to express appreciation and pride of their family members—fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins, and sons—who have served and are serving their country. In the school gymnasium packed with students and family members, they shared their loved ones’ stories. Michelle Lindsey, first grade teacher, proudly shared stories of her father, Gerald C. Pratt, who served in Army during the Korean War. His life was spared many times and his work in communications was integral to the safety of many. “I’m very proud of my father’s service to his country and feel blessed that at 87 years old, he’s still here with me,” Lindsey said. Blackridge Nutrition Manager Debora Beckstead shared how proud she is of her son Weston who joined the Air Force after high school graduation.

Students hold flags around the auditorium to lead the large crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance at Blackridge. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

“He will be deployed for his first deployment in January 2020,” she told students. “So if you see me crying for the next six months, you’ll know why. As a mother, it’s hard to see him go but I want to let him know how proud I am of him and all that he’s accomplished and thank him for his service.” At North Star Academy, students honored 40 veterans with a special program. Ev-

ery student kindergarten through ninth grade participated by singing a patriotic song, playing an instrument, performing a skit, creating an art piece, or writing letters of appreciation. Guest speaker, Olympic bobsledder Jeremy Holm, spoke to students about what it means to be a hero. He said his grandfather taught him that a hero is someone who helps others. Holm shared his grandfather’s stories

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of serving as a paratrooper. “Every veteran has a story,” Holm said. “Every veteran has a reason why they do what they do and did what they did. My grandpa went because he loved this country and believed it was worth fighting for and he wanted us, today, to have a good life. We thank our veterans by living a good life, by honoring our country and our freedoms.” Students received a special message from NSA alumnus Ryan Hall, who is currently serving in the Army’s 25th infantry stationed in Hawaii. Hall entered kindergarten for NSA’s inaugural year and remained until he graduated the ninth grade. Through a video message, Hall expressed his pride in serving his country and appreciation for those who have sacrificed for freedom in the past that should not be forgotten. He then challenged students to identify any of their family members or neighbors who are serving in the armed forces. “Write a letter to a soldier, sailor, marine, or an airman who is currently deployed overseas, extending your gratitude,” he said. Navy veteran Keith Steere’s three grandchildren invite him to the NSA Veteran’s Day event every year. He said it reminds them of sacrifices made by him and other family members who also served in the military, in-

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North Star Academy students’ and faculty’s military family members are honored on the Wall of Heroes. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

cluding his father and his uncle. “I hope they have respect for our country and courage to carry that on and be grateful for those that served them,” said Steere. Mike Denison, Army reserve, has two daughters who attend NSA. He said school programs such as this help kids understand sacrifices veterans have made. Denison was deployed to Iraq in 2005

when his oldest daughter was just 4 months old. “I missed that first bit of life—for me that was probably the biggest sacrifice,” Denison said. He said military families also deserve appreciation. “There’s lots of sacrifice by the whole family—the ones that stay home and are left to worry,” he said. l









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Winter skies hold less pollution than 10 years ago By Erin Dixon | erin@mycityjournals.com


inter is coming. With it comes trapped pollution. Air pollution in the Salt Lake valley is a problem: an obvious statement. The good news is, it’s become less of a problem than it was in 2010. In a presentation to the American Planners Association, Thom Carter, UCAIR (Utah Clean Air Partnership) executive director, stated that, “From 2002 to 2017, total emissions have dropped 38% despite the population increasing 34% during that same time period.” Why is the air better? Because we discovered the primary culprits for pollution. Us. Fifty-two percent of Utah residents are now aware their own vehicles are the biggest contributor, whereas six years ago 56% thought mines, refineries and other industries were at fault. Because residents see themselves as responsible, many are making efforts to change their habits. Taking public transit instead of driving alone is one of the biggest changes people are making. “With 50% of pollution coming

from our tailpipes, not idling, reducing cold starts, taking transit, carpooling are most beneficial to reducing our impact on air quality,” Carter said. Another major contributor to pollution is old appliances. “Changing out a traditional water heater to an ultra-low NOx water heater can make a big difference. Experts at the Department of Environmental Quality tell us that nitrous oxide or NOx is a precursor of PM2.5 (Particulate Matter 2.5 micrometers)…. When a homeowner switches to an ultra-low NOx water heater, it reduces NOx emissions by 75%,” Carter said. There’s even a way to save yourself cash and reduce pollution; turn your furnace down by two degrees. “Regarding thermostats, we know that people are turning down their thermostats to save money and help air quality…. This 2 degree difference can save 1 ton in CO2. The average family emits 25 tons of CO2 emissions per year,” Carter said. However, if any of these small efforts stopped, pollution would again Vehicle emissions are one of the biggest contributors to airborne pollution. (Adobe stock photo) skyrocket. l

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South Valley City Journal

Is it time to give the mayor another chance, asks City Council By Justin Adams | justin.a@thecityjournals.com


lmost one year ago, four members of the Herriman City Council called on Mayor David Watts (the fifth member of the council) to resign, claiming he had lost the trust of both the public and the city staff as a result of a series of policy violations. When he refused, the council stripped him of many of his roles and responsibilities as a mayor as well as decreased his salary. Now, some of those council members are saying it’s time to give him a second chance. “When is enough punishment is enough. When do you give opportunities for improvement?” said Councilman Clint Smith during a Nov.13 city council work meeting in which the subject was raised. Councilwoman Nicole Martin proposed restoring Watts to three committee assignments that are normally reserved for cities’ mayors: the Southwest Mayors Group, Conference of Mayors, and Council of Governments. “It’s time to bring David back into the fold and have him on those committees that are mayor oriented,” she said. “That makes perfect sense. And then it’s not my problem anymore. You as a council can determine how the mayor is doing with the added responsibility. I’m not asking to touch pay. I’m not asking to touch anything but those very specific committee assignments that are designed for a mayor where we are being hurt because our mayor is not there.” Both Martin and Smith expressed that they felt like the city was being hurt by not having a strong mayor representing the city out in the broader community. “There is no shortage of dysfunctional city councils in the state. Everybody knows about them. They lose opportunities. They don’t have the influence in the broader community that they should have. We are simply hurting ourselves by continuing to foster the dysfunction that we have,” said Martin. Watts said he would welcome the opportunity to return to his role of attending the mayor-oriented committee meetings. “I’d be lying if I said this hasn’t been

Covering the High Costs of Cancer is Good... Beating Cancer is Better. Mayor David Watts was stripped of many of his roles and responsibilities last year by the rest of the council. Now some council members think he deserves a second chance. (Herriman City)

one of the most stressful years of my life,” he said. “A lot of that falls on my shoulders. At the same time, I’ve stuck around because I want to do good by the residents that elected me and I signed up for four years and I intend to do the best I can with what time I have.” The possibility of restoring the mayor to some of his roles and responsibilities was news to both some in the room and residents watching online. The agenda item associated with the discussion was labeled as “Round Table Discussion pertaining to City Council Policy and Procedures.” Some residents took issue with that vague description, as well as the fact that the discussion was held in a work meeting which doesn’t allow for public comment. A poll posted on the Herriman Happenings Facebook group by Councilman-Elect Steven Shields asked Herriman residents if Watts should be allowed to represent the city on the three committees. Over 200 respondents said no, while only a handful said yes. Councilwoman Sherrie Ohrn also pointed out that many residents had called on the mayor to resign last year, to which Martin said that the Mayor’s role should be determined by the voters in the next election. “The voters chose David as their mayor. If the voters choose to not have him as mayor, they will choose so the next election,” she said. l


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America’s Got Talent’s Kechi Okwuchi visits Utah for this year’s Women of Worth Gala By Kaleigh Stock | k.stock@mycityjournals.com


n Nov. 9,, Herriman-based Women of Worth held its annual gala at 6SIX9, a new venue in Salt Lake City. America’s Got Talent finalist, summa cum laud graduate and Nigerian immigrant Kechi Okwuchi headlined as inspirational speaker and performing artist. Women of Worth is in its ninth year of operation. WoW is an organization that helps women who have survived traumatic experiences such as domestic abuse, drug addiction, debilitating illnesses and polygamy find stability and strength through connection so as to discover their individual self-worth. The program is run by donations, 98% of which go directly to its women of worth. WoW’s founder and director, Judee Guay, said the program was built on the premise that everyone in this life should be able to feel that they are worthy, capable and enough to be and do anything they choose to—that no one should have the power to take that dream away. She said WoW gives women tools to build self-confidence and find stability but that the women themselves do the work. The WoW program starts each January with a two-day retreat that includes several motivational speakers, activities such as

“I am” affirmation statements and gratitude journals, and resources to help each woman make connections participate in life in healthy ways, such as finding employment. Each woman sets her own personal goals and is paired with a mentor to help her fulfill those goals. Following the initial retreat, mentors consistently touch base with their new “sisters” and empowering workshops are held regularly throughout the year. In September, program participants go on a WoW-funded clothing “shopping spree.” Guay said once women have transformed internally, new clothing can be a valuable form of external empowerment that helps them feel confident they can accomplish professional and personal goals. When the year is over, the women complete the program, and the annual gala is held to celebrate each woman’s accomplishments. This year’s Women of Worth gala began with Nigerian-born 29-year-old Kechi Okwuchi singing her original single, “Don’t You Dare.” After her performance, she told the harrowing story of the plane crash that Women of Worth cheer on Kechi Okwuchi for her singing talent. (Kaleigh Stock/City Journals) nearly took her life in 2005. Okwuchi and 60 of her fellow classmates from Loyola Jesuit


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College, grades 7–12, were flying home for Christmas break in a heavy storm when the plane crash-landed on the runway. In that tragic moment of impact, 107 of the 109 passengers were killed. Kechi lost 60 of her classmates, including her best friend, who sat across the aisle from her, and sustained third-degree burns over 65% of the body. Doctors gave Okwuchi only a 30% chance of survival. Okwuchi was immediately transported to a hospital in South Africa to receive care for her burns and was later flown to Shriner’s Hospital in Houston, Texas. Since the crash, she has undergone more than 100 reconstructive surgeries. Okwuchi said it was the love and support of her tight-knit family (particularly her mother), her Christian faith and her personal perspectives on selfworth and tragedy that got her through the compounded traumas of loss and incredible physical pain. Okwuchi’s resilience and confidence at WoW gala was palpable. When asked if she had any survivor’s guilt, she said she knew “no explanation would suffice for the death of 60 kids.” She expanded on this explanation by making a statement that people in abusive relationships or who fall into other bad patterns or habits likely need to hear: Bad things happen, and there is no reason to try to, “go down the road of ‘Why?’” That path is one that too often leads to abusive self-blame and unnecessary misery.

It could be said that the maxim of the night was, “Our scars do not define us.” Okwuchi said after her accident her mother was afraid to let her see a mirror, but when she finally peered into one, she was not so perturbed as her mother thought she would be. Okwuchi said “there was still something familiar in my reflection.” She had a revelation in that moment that there is something much deeper inside of each person that is more than the physical body. She still saw the person she always knew herself to be in her eyes. Incredibly, Okwuchi said her literal voice was also changed that day. Singing was the one thing Okwuchi could do that didn’t cause her pain, so it became her escape. A close friend noticed that she sang better than she had before the accident. That friend later secretly filled out an application for Kechi for America’s Got Talent. Kechi was accepted onto the show and went on to become a finalist on two seasons after receiving high praise from all of its hosts and a coveted “golden buzzer” from Simon Cowell. Simon had earlier stated that Okwuchi deserved her place on the show not just because of her story but because of her talent. After her talk, Okwuchi sang two more songs, “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten, and “You Are the Reason” by Calum Scott, followed by a speech by Judee Guay. Guay, herself a past victim of abuse, imparted to guests, “When you love yourself, everything you want

and everything you need comes into your life.” Following Guay’s remarks, an award ceremony for mentors and recognition of WoW participant graduation was presented. Marie Jess, who has taken over as the chief operation’s officer since Guay’s recent move to Las Vegas, was recognized for the countless hours she has committed to continue WoW’s operation. After the awards ceremony, each of WoW’s 2019 graduates was escorted down a red carpet. As each participant walked across the stage, she expressed her gratitude for the positive transformations WoW had created in her life. One woman said she did not know where she would be without the new family and support system that she found through the program. Another affirmed that she had learned that vulnerability and openness are the keys to discovering one’s self-worth. Each courageous woman stood tall and resolute and closed her speech with the dignified affirmation, “I am a woman of worth.” If you know of someone who should be nominated a WoW or want to get involved with a mentor, go to WoWUtah.org to fill out an application. Women who join WoW must not be in crisis, must be at least one-year sober, must be away from their abuser and must be in good enough health to show up to workshops. l

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A woman of worth accepts her award for graduating from the WoW program. (Kaleigh Stock/City Journals)

Kechi Okwuchi, a self-taught singer, wows the crowd with her version of Calum Scott’s “You are the Reason.” (Kaleigh Stock/City Journals)

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erriman High School’s Hearts of Gold charity drive runs Dec. 2–20. Students will be raising money to help four children who are battling cancer. “We wanted actual people so our community and our school can see an actual face and really make those personal connections,” said Student Body Service Officer Sydney Reading. Local charity Hayes Tough identified four families to benefit from HHS’s fundraising efforts. The families have a range of financial needs: One family has to travel to Seattle for its child’s treatments. Another is a single mom with six kids, one of them with cancer and another with heart problems. One family has 8-month-old twins, one of which has a brain tumor. “When a child gets cancer, the whole family is getting diagnosed as well,” said Savanna Tate, who founded Hayes Tough with her husband, Steve, in honor of their son Hayes who they lost to cancer. The foundation provides financial grants, support, and hope to families dealing with childhood can-


HHS students will meet the children and their families at the Hearts of Gold opening assembly Dec. 2. They will also get to know them as the families attend Heart of Gold events throughout the month. Community members can support the families as well by attending Heart of Gold events such as family nights at Nickelmania and Airborne and restaurant nights, where a portion of the night’s sales go to the charity. Donations are accepted during Odd Jobs, when high school students go door to door between 5 and 8 p.m. each night from Dec 2 to Dec. 19, offering to do any kind of service. Donations can be made on the school website or in the front office. There will also be donation jugs at nearby elementary and middle schools. Donations can be made with coins, bills, credit cards or gift cards. The community has always been a big support to the Heart of Gold tradition. “I just think that it brings the community together and our school together,” said Cam-

South Valley City Journal

ry Hoskin, junior class service officer. “You just see all these people working for the same good cause.” This year, Mountain Ridge High School students will also be soliciting donations for their charity drive in some of the same neighborhoods as HHS. Students at the two schools are friends, but they are looking forward to some friendly competition as each student body tries to earn money for their charity. “Both of our schools’ student governments have communicated really well, so a lot of it is coordinated efforts between our schools,” said HHS student government adviser Michael Wilkey. “It feels like we’re working together instead of against each other.” When HHS’s basketball team plays MRHS’s team Dec. 10 at 2:30 p.m., each school will also be competing to earn money for their charity. There will be food trucks and donation jugs at the game for each charity. Their drill teams and dance companies will have a dance-off and accept donations as votes for the crowd’s favorite performance. Raffles and games will also encourage donations from students and parents to show support for their school. “We are Herriman, and they are Mountain Ridge, but we’re still family and still one in heart,” Reading said. “They’ll have

their whole charity, and, in the end, that’s the whole point—that it’s all going to a good cause.” HHS students and their families will be easy to spot in the crowd. They visibly show their support for HHS by wearing specially designed HHS and Hearts of Gold merchandise to charity events. “It’s a tradition—kids love the merch,” Reading said. This year’s SBO art officers have designed a variety of shirts, hoodies, hats and windbreakers that people can purchase on Instagram @heartsofgold2019 or at the school. All proceeds go to the charity. The charity season is a busy time for students, with activities nearly every day and night, but they agree Hearts of Gold is their favorite time of year. “It is totally crazy,” Reading said. “But then every time one of the kids comes [to an event], your heart just melts, and you remember I’m doing this for them, and it’s worth it.” Savanna Tate is honored HHS has chosen to support Hayes Tough families. “These kids are opening up their hearts and putting forth work that has nothing to do with them,” she said. “They’re willing to go all out, put themselves in uncomfortable situations raising money. It’s just really telling that these are good kids.” l


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December 2019 | Page 31

Hikers, bicyclists, equestrians weigh in on the future of Salt Lake County’s trails By Jennifer J. Johnson


he Visit Salt Lake website boasts of Salt Lake City’s significant “trailheads in town”—but the only trails referenced are downtown-accessible and reference access to the Wasatch Mountains. For those of us who live here, trails matter, too—and not just trails accessible from downtown, but trails in our parts of the valley for varied recreation as well as interconnected trails for daily transportation to-and-from work and other interactions. The city of South Jordan routinely publicizes year-after-year survey results that the No. 1 amenity cited by residents is the city’s robust trails network. City administrators and elected officials repeatedly remind residents of this fact, when matters of development come up—such as paving previously unpaved areas to earn funding to interconnect the trails with other systems throughout the valley, etc. The Jordan River Parkway is a continuous, non-motorized, paved trail, which follows the Jordan River—what Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson calls “the heart of the county”—for 45-plus miles, weaving in and out of urban areas, parks and marshy areas. In August, the City Journals published an article about the preponderance of hiking trails in the area.

Trail advocates and environmentalist alike, throughout the valley, now have the opportunity to influence progress on not just existing, well-publicized trail systems, but fledgling, under-developed, unconnected and even undeveloped ones. Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation Planning Director Martin Jensen told the City Journals that Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation Planning Department is working to “get municipalities and interested parties to come together” to help define and divine the area’s future for trails. In the quest to best understand trails, he said he spent nearly a month studying—by personal enjoyment on a family vacation— trail systems in Japan, some of which date back to the eighth century. Trails, he says, do not represent “one source of truth.” They also, he has found, do not even consistently mean the same thing to different people or stakeholder groups. Helping define trails syntax, along with developing the future of trails for hikers, bicyclists and equestrians, and other constituents is core to the work his team at the planning department are undertaking now.

Trails do not represent one source of truth, believes Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation Planning Director Martin Jensen. (Jennifer J. Johnson/City Journals)

hosted four open houses to solicit early resident and stakeholder input on updating the regional trails plan. Constituents from Magna to Midvale, from Holladay to Herriman were courted to provide input on a proposed trails corridor that would enhance a current patchwork network that provides rare and incomplete EastWest connectivity, to a richer, broader, more connected trails network that would reach the edges of the Wasatch foothills to the East and the Oquirrh foothills to the West, and signifiAUGUST INPUT cantly amp trails access for Western constitDuring August, the planning department uents. A big issue of consideration was the matter of to pave or not to pave select trails. Constituent groups made a strong showing.



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ed the area’s horse community and loudly defended the importance of preserving river ecologies (riparian corridors)—attended and vigorously contributed in both written and verbal comments to the plan.


Draper is still a horse community, although ordinances over the past few decades have reined in the larger-scale stables that once helped define the agricultural area now succumbing to development. The Draper Open House, held at the Dimple Dell Recreation Center, was notable in three ways. First, the session kicked off all four open houses. Second, it was well-attended, dwarfing participation at other open houses. Third, those attending the meeting and sharing their insights were decidedly horse-rights oriented and were of the “anti-pave” nature. The nation’s oldest continuously operating horse organization, the Green Mountain Horse Association, indicates that horses are “the vehicle that thinks” and that “horses are the only means of transport into the wilderness that has a mind of its own.” As a result, horse owners approach the concept of trail sharing as one requiring thoughtfulness and consideration from both rider and non-rider points of view. A group of approximately 30 residents—most, if not all of whom represent-

“I’d like to see more unpaved, soft trails,” said Dylan Timmer of Rose Park, who attended the second of four open houses. Timmer, a cycling aficionado who tends to ride his bike just about everywhere—either in tandem with transit or just solo—notes that it is “a different experience” riding on paved trails versus unpaved trails. Young families, he observes, benefit in the effort to get children started on mountain biking by having a predominance of softer, unpaved trails, which are easier on newbies likely to experience some falls. That said, Timmer also indicates that he is a big fan of the storied W&OD Trail—or “Wad” trail, which is short for Northern Virginia’s Washington and Old Dominion Trail. That trail is an asphalt-surfaced rail trail that runs through densely populated urban and suburban communities as well as through rural areas. Wad, then, seems akin to Salt Lake County’s Jordan River Parkway. “There’s a place for both,” he said and added, “I ride my bike wherever I go.” Another hardcore cyclist is Kevin Dwyer. Dwyer, on the board of both the Salt Lake Valley Trails Society and the Salt Lake Bicycle Collective, underscored what he sees as the critical importance of Salt Lake County’s trail visioning update. “This plan is important—it’s a pathways plan,” he said, observing that the county’s plans for more extensive soft-surface trails, which are also connected with other existing or new trails, would significantly add to the quality of life and limit the need for automobiles in the overall transportation equation. While horse and hiking enthusiasts are interested in the recreation side, bicycle riders such as Timmer and Dwyer are interested in leveraging the two-wheeled recreation experience they love to the fullest extent possible—and doing so in a safe environment. Although the Salt Lake Valley Trails Society’s webpage features a mid-air cyclist in a 160-degree position, Dwyer indicates trails can offer—and need to offer—cyclists safe, connected transportation routes throughout the Salt Lake valley. Dwyer says he has been hit by automobiles three times while riding his bike. As a result, he says he no longer elects to ride on roads without dedicated pathways. “Without a plan like this, I am terrified,” he told the City Journals. l

South Valley City Journal

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or some reason unbeknownst to me, us Utahans get way too hyped over holiday lights. Perhaps, we really like them because of the creative designs. Or maybe it’s because it’s a cheap or completely priceless way to spend a magical night with friends and family. It might even be a way for many of us to fight the seasonal depression that comes along with the winter darkness. Whatever the reason may be, we love some holiday lights. If you haven’t checked out these locations yet, I recommend them for a usually-completely-free experience (unless you’re buying some hot chocolate). My favorite light events over the past few years have been the Trees of Life. While originally named the Tree of Light, many residents have nicknamed the trees “Trees of Life,” for various reasons. One of the most stunning trees grows in Draper City Park (1300 E. 12500 South). Every year, over 65,000 lights are carefully strung throughout the tree. When lit (which occurs the first Monday evening after Thanksgiving) all of the branches of the tree are illuminated; making it seem like a tree from a magical world. Throughout the valley, many more Trees of Life are being decorated. The closest one to me personally resides in a cemetery. That’s where I would check to see if there’s a Tree of Life near you. Temple Square arguably has the most famous lights within the valley. Located in

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Hyped over lights downtown Salt Lake City, Temple Square decorates their 10-acre complex with many different colors and styles of lights. This year, the lights will be on from Nov. 29 until Dec. 31. Check them out from 5 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. The Grand America Hotel in SLC (555 S. Main St.) is a building to sight-see all year round. When it’s lit up with Christmas lights though, it’s hard not to miss. City Creek (50 S. Main Street in Salt Lake City) will turn on their lights for the season on Nov. 21. Their event titled “Santa’s Magical Arrival” will kick off at 6 p.m., when the Candy Windows at Macy’s on Main Street are revealed. The Westminster College Dance Program will be performing “Eve” and will be followed by a fire fountain show. Light the Heights in Cottonwood Heights will occur on Dec. 2, beginning at 5 p.m. A holiday market will be open as City Hall, located at 2277 E. Bengal Blvd., turns on their lights for the first time this season. Other public spaces that are worth walking through to see the lights are This is the Place Heritage Park (2537 E. Sunnyside Ave., Salt Lake City), Gardner Village (1100 W. 7800 South, West Jordan), and Thanksgiving Points (3003 N. Thanksgiving Way, Lehi). Beginning on Dec. 6, Hogle Zoo (2600 E. Sunnyside Ave.) will host Zoo Lights! intermittently throughout the season until Jan. 5. This event does require an entrance fee of

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$9.95. On Sundays through Thursdays, they will be open from 5:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. On Fridays and Saturdays, they will be open until 10 p.m. One other event with an entrance fee that’s worth mentioning is Christmas in Color in South Jordan, at 1161 S. 2200 West. You’ll need your car for this one as you drive through lighted tunnels and landscapes for at least 30 minutes. Tickets are $27 per vehicle. Now back to the free-of-charge neighborhood lights. In Sugar House, Glen Arbor Drive (also unofficially known as “Christmas Street”) is a popular destination for holiday drivers. While driving, please be courteous of the street’s residents.  In Taylorsville, (another unofficial) Christmas Street has been causing quite a stir. It’s a festive neighborhood where the residents really take to the holiday. Located around 3310 W. Royal Wood Drive, this street is one to cruise down. The Lights on Sherwood Drive in Kaysville is also a neighborhood gaining popularity. According to their Facebook page, their Christmas light shows are fully controlled and synchronized to a light show. Shows start at 5:30 p.m. and run until 10 p.m. every day of the week. If you’re looking for even more places to visit, you might want to check out chistmaslightfinder.com.


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Page 34 | December 2019

South Valley City Journal


Laughter AND



Son of a Nutcracker


t’s the time of year people pretend “The Nutcracker” ballet is a fun holiday activity. If you’re one of the lucky few who never sat through this weird production involving multi-headed vermin, living toys and one unsettling old man, here’s a recap. Picture a festive house in the late 1800s with dozens of dancing guests, skipping children and happy servants, basically it’s the “12 Days of Christmas” come to life. Young Clara and her obnoxious brother, Fritz, are the ballet version of little kids crazy-excited for Christmas. (The ballet version differs from real life because ballet dancers don’t speak, where real children don’t shut up from Thanksgiving to Christmas morning.) Dr. Drosselmeyer, Clara’s super-creepy godfather, appears at the party dressed like Count Chocula and presents her with a wooden nutcracker. Clara is over-the-top ecstatic, for reasons I’ll never understand. I guess children had a different relationship with nutcrackers in the 19th century. Clara’s brother is SO jealous of the gift (right??) that he flings the nutcracker across the room, because really, what else can you do with a nutcracker? Clara’s despondent. She wraps his broken wooden body in a sling (like ya do) and falls asleep on the couch, snuggled to her nutcracker. During the night, the Rat King and his minions sneak into Clara’s home, because why not? She wakes up and freaks out. The



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nutcracker turns into a handsome soldier and wields his sword to defeat the rodent army. “Nutcracker! You’re my hero!” screams Clara, if people in a ballet could talk. “That’s Prince Nutcracker to you, peasant,” he sniffs in pantomime, before taking her to the magical Land of the Sweets ruled by the Sugar Plum Fairy who has an unclear but definite sexual relationship with Prince Nutcracker. While in the Land of Sweets, Clara watches dancers from Russia, Spain, China and Arabia (?) as they perform in a culturally stereotypical fashion. Prince Nutcracker sits next to Clara cracking walnuts with his jaw like some football jock. Mother Ginger shows up in drag with a skirt full of tumbling children, then there’s a flower waltz and dancing pipes and tons more pirouetting before the Sugar Plum Fairy takes the stage to make everyone else look clumsy and insipid. It’s all performed to Tchaikovsky’s musical score that stays in your head through January. In the end, it turns out it was all a dream, as most stories involving young girls and adventure turn out to be. I told you that story to tell you this story. When I was a gangly 11 year old, still full of hope, I auditioned for Ballet West’s “The Nutcracker.” As the audition drew nearer, I practiced every spin and arabesque I’d ever learned. I played the music all day until my


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dad walked into my room, removed the album from the turn table and smashed it into pieces with his bare hands. I showed up at the audition with my hair pulled into a bun so tight it closed my eyes. An elegant dancer performed several steps that we practiced for a few minutes, then we performed for the judges. It was over so quickly. As dancers were given roles as soldiers, party goers and mice, I held my breath. But my number wasn’t called. I was heartbroken. Maybe decades later I’m insulted that the ballet judges couldn’t see my awkward talent. Or maybe I’ve endured enough versions of this tale to see it’s craziness. And if “The Nutcracker” is your family’s favorite holiday tradition, ignore my opinion. It’s all a dream anyway.




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